Charlottesville: Loving Hard When It’s Hard

Charlottesville love grace

241 years ago, our founders created a country based on the radical view that liberty was not doled out by a self-aggrandizing monarch but was an inalienable right. The heirs of that spirit of liberty fought a Civil War to protect it, to declare it sacrosanct.

80 years later, another generation volunteered in droves to safeguard that same spirit for men and women across the world that they had never met. They knew, perhaps better than anyone in history, that it wasn’t just the fate of the war that hinged on their utter selflessness. It was the fate of humanity. Read more...

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Fall Risk

Fall Risk hospital love hard

The nurse wouldn’t even let me through the doors of pre-op until she had slapped a bright yellow bracelet on my arm proclaiming FALL RISK. Honestly, I didn’t know whether to be insulted or impressed that she knew me so well. I went with the latter.

If there are two better words in the English language to describe me, I haven’t yet found them.

I am, of course, a literal fall risk, even when I’m not on anesthesia. I am clumsy and uncoordinated. I fall down stairs. I fall off my bike. I trip on chair legs, sidewalks, even air. I prefer to think of it as a talent rather than a liability. At any given time my body is adorned with more bruises than jewelry and, usually, I have no idea where they came from. Read more...

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What Do You Wear To Get The Results of a Biopsy? Random Questions I Never Thought I’d Ask…

What exactly is the appropriate dress code for getting the results of a biopsy?

In case you’re wondering, Miss Manners has not yet expounded on the topic, which, frankly, surprised me considering she once deemed “business casual” to be less of a dress code and more of an accounting practice accessorized by handcuffs.

Look. I understand that this question seems ridiculously inane, even for someone who is regularly consulted on matters of traditional, albeit arcane, fashion etiquette. Read more...

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My Voice

My voice has always gotten me into trouble.

Feel free to ask my mother, who has spent 40 years telling me to lower my voice in quiet places like, well, everywhere.

Or ask my former teachers, who had no choice but to give me an S- or N on my report card in “Cooperation and Consideration” because I used my voice, well, all the time.

Or my exes (all of whom are still close friends), who will tell you that I do indeed say everything I feel the exact moment I feel it. Even if the timing is, well, inopportune. Read more...

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Why I Hate New Years…

Judging by social media over the last few days, 2016 was apparently the worst year in all of humanity. The rash of posts and tweets heralding New Year’s Eve as the end of all the ills that have befallen the world left me a little befuddled (which, admittedly, is not hard to do).

This symbolic adherence to New Years as the closing of one door and the opening of another has always struck me as a little contrived.

Maybe it’s because I have always marked the passing of time by the school year, not the calendar year. Read more...

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Believing in the Magic of Christmas: The Truth About Santa

It happened the other night. An off-the-cuff remark: “I know you’re really the Elf mom.” Then a pause and, more tentatively, “I know you’re Santa.”

He’s made those casual comments a few times before. But his voice – which is always so resolute and certain when he is making a pronouncement about the leading rusher in the NFL or the way to reduce fractions – shakes a little when he tests the waters of doubt.

I know, in the way that you always know your child, that what he wants is for me to tell him he is wrong. Dead wrong. That the Tooth Fairy flies into his room and Santa Claus shimmies down the chimney and I am not the Elf. I know this because if he didn’t, he would simply ask me point blank, the way he does with everything else. No, what he wants me to do is tell him magic is real. Read more...

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Be The Inkeeper Who Opens The Door

Be the Innkeeper Who Opens The Door. Mary and Joseph. Be the Good. Christmas Kindness. All Year Long. LuckyOrangePants.com
One year ago tonight, I took the boys to dinner. As Jack was making his salad, an elderly gentleman with a walker was trying with some effort to open the door.

Without my prompting, the boys rushed to open the door for him. He seemed genuinely touched and told me what gentlemen they were.

For some reason, I could not stop glancing over at the man as he waited for his takeout order at a nearby table. Perhaps it was his eyes which bespoke a quiet, gentle loneliness. I know that look.

I have felt it. Read more...

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Pressing the Reset Button: Family, The Election, and A More Perfect Union

Friday was a tough morning in our house. For no apparent reason everyone was cranky and flippant and hostile. Including me. Our chance day off from school turned from a world full of possibilities into an inexplicable fracas about where we were going and why.

Instead of engaging in a reasonable discussion where differing viewpoints were acknowledged and debated respectfully, my household was filled with a barrage of insults, voices shouting over one another, and eye rolls.

Frankly it reminded me a lot of how the entire country is behaving right now. Read more...

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A Girl, Her Dad, and a Boy

One year ago, I woke up to Facebook reminding me, as I was still groggy and only half awake, to wish my dad a happy birthday.

And for a minute, it felt like salt in my wounds because he’s not here anymore damnit and I silently cursed myself for forgetting to delete his account again.

But then I went on a field trip with 20 first grade boys who were silly and sweet and wanted to feel and touch and learn.

And one of them – one who always has trouble staying out of trouble – seemed to need my attention. So I held his hand while we walked and I gave him my sandwich when he asked if he could have it because he didn’t like his own and I played games with him on the bus to distract him from hitting the other boys. Read more...

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Staying Close

Stay-close-to-anything-that-makes-you-glad-you-are-alive-love

Over the last few weeks, I have been open about the internal doubts and crisis of confidence that brought me to my knees. For all I know you are tired of hearing about it. And that’s totally fine.

But I’m going to keep talking about it for two reasons. The first, and entirely selfish reason, is that, as previously noted, I am a talker. I say what I am feeling the moment I feel it. And as this is my space, the one place where I get to make all the decisions, well, I get to talk.

The second, and more important reason, is that I have learned over the last few weeks that so many of you have faced the same questions. And that has given me great comfort. Read more...

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Doubt, Faith, and Summer’s End

doubt faith love summer beach

Today marks the unofficial end of summer.

Those of us with kids already in school saw summer come to an abrupt and unpalatable end with a blaring alarm clock and the return of homework. Of course those of us in coastal towns also know that the best beach days actually still lie ahead thanks to an inevitable Indian summer and the absence of tourist traffic.

Nonetheless there is something symbolic about Labor Day. So today we found ourselves drawn to the beach, trying to hold on to summer’s final gasp as we reveled in the post-hurricane surf. Read more...

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Believing When It Is Hard to Believe

I am, and always have been, an open book. I say the things I think the exact moment I think them. Apparently I write that way too. There is no filter, no editing, no careful selection of facts and emotions to create a picture of a theoretical existence.

And if being an open book means talking about the myriad times I have chosen to find joy even in heartbreak, it also means talking about the times when I could not.

Maybe it’s not pretty. Maybe it’s uncomfortable. But it’s real. Besides, a good book always makes you a little uncomfortable, doesn’t it? Read more...

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Radical Hospitality

DeAnna Casey Photography
DeAnna Casey Photography

Some months ago, our assistant rector gave a beautiful sermon about radical hospitality. Although his sermon was more specifically concerned with the social upheaval of the summer and the church’s duty to extend radical hospitality to those who had been disenfranchised or marginalized, I took his message on a very personal level instead.

Maybe it was because the sermon coincided with the first anniversary of my father’s death and my heart was raw from the emotion of that service.

Maybe it was because I was struggling to make sense of a friend who no longer seemed to care about me. Read more...

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The Moment When Everything Is Possible

Sunday morning I put on my lucky orange pants for the last time this season.  I didn’t know it at the time of course, although I had an inkling. That is, after all, the nature of the post-season – survive and advance or lose and go home.

One year ago, I stood in a similar stadium, watching Virginia play the very same team, and there wasn’t a single part of me that believed it would be the last time.  Hope is a funny thing that way.

But one year ago, I didn’t know what I do know. That you cannot will something to be simply because you believe.  One year ago, I hadn’t yet listened to the voices of the paramedics performing CPR on my dad.  I hadn’t held my child and told him everything was going to be okay, even though I knew it wasn’t.  In my head I knew.  But my heart still believed in the improbable.  As my brain was busy calculating the ugly logistics of death, my heart was exhilarating in the moment that was surely ahead of us when the doctors would joyfully tell us of the medical miracle that they had performed. Read more...

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What Santa Brought Me For Christmas

I didn’t have a chance to write my letter to Santa this year.  All December long, I kept a running list in my head, and, just like the boys, added and subtracted things along the way.  I never took pen to paper, partially because there was always something else to do.  Decorating our tree, decorating mom’s tree, coordinating teacher presents, Christmas cards, fixing the strands of lights that had gone out, baking, assembling, guessing which Star Wars lego sets were really the ones the boys wanted. Read more...

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